They're Not Dumb, They're Different: Stalking the Second Tier
S. Tobias 1990 Research Corporation 96 p.
To solve the twin problems of a projected shortfall of science workers and general science illiteracy in the United States, Tobias's study asked post-undergraduate students with considerable high school preparation and at least one college calculus course to 'seriously audit' a semester-long chemistry or calculus-based physics course. Students were asked to perform as well as they could and notice what made the course hard or obtuse for them or other students. The students were turned off by the competitive, rather than cooperative, learning environment in these introductory courses. They were alienated by the emphasis on basic skill performance on tests rather than conceptual understanding. Seeing a professor spend ninety percent of class time working problem after problem did not help these students find a sense of continuity with the subject matter. One student wanted to learn about 'Avogadro's insight' instead of being handed Avogadro's number. The author has a number of recommendations for keeping capable students interested in science.